Sat. Oct 24th, 2020

I want you to imagine a 9-year-old boy approaches his mother and asks, “When are we going to have to move out of our house?” The mother is completely stunned. She is a bit amused (as parents often are amused by the questions of their children). Then she begins to wonder where the boy got this…is there fire from where this smoke is coming? “What are you talking about? We aren’t going to have to move out of our house. Where did you get this idea?” “Well,” the boy explains, “Tommy’s mom and dad couldn’t pay for their house and now they have to leave.” The mother, somewhat relieved says “Oh honey, daddy and mommy are not going to let that happen!”
This article is not about families struggling to pay bills. Rather it is about the culture within some parts of the Church that allowed sex-abuse to be covered up.
I am so glad I live in Mobile, Alabama. In the state of Alabama Catholics comprise less than 10 percent of the population. Historically, being Catholic in Alabama has been a challenge culturally. We certainly don’t live in a culture where our priests and Archbishop have great influence and respect in the culture at large. Our clergy are not viewed as figures almost larger than life. Our clergy are scrutinized here in a way they may not be in areas with a larger Catholic population.
In other parts of our country, and in other parts of the world the clergy are larger than life. In rare instances this has led to a culture where vile things happened and then were covered up. This is a problem that the Church must address in a meaningful and concrete way. But, my dear brothers and sisters here in Alabama, don’t mistake this call for changes with a problem here in Alabama. We have wonderful priests; pray for them! We have wonderful seminarians; pray for them and ask the Lord to send more of them into The Vineyard! We have a wonderful Archbishop who has a history of being transparent when it comes to dealing with sexual abuse.
I am not saying there isn’t a problem. Clearly these is. I am not saying that no abuse ever occurred here. It did. I am not saying that abuse will never happen here again. It may. But, I don’t think we have the clerical culture that exists elsewhere that allows for a lack of transparency. Let us not then, fret over a problem that is not plaguing us. When a body is sick it needs treatment. Let’s not operate on the shoulder or worry about the shoulder when the issue is an appendicitis.
— Pat Arensberg is the Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life. Email him at
For more information concerning the events of this office, visit us at

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